Thunderbolts: One Step Forward

New Thunderbolts 1

"One Step Forward" (2005/01/01)
"One Step Forward..." New Thunderbolts 1 (January 2005)
"The Games People Play" New Thunderbolts 2 (January 2005)
"Heavy Burdens" New Thunderbolts 3 (February 2005)
"Sword and Claw" New Thunderbolts 4 (March 2005)
"Call to Battle?" New Thunderbolts 5 (April 2005)
"City of Heroes?" New Thunderbolts 6 (May 2005)
Reprinted in New Thunderbolts: One Step Forward

Reader Rating: Above Average

Summary: It's two months since Abe Jenkins vowed to form a new Thunderbolts team and he's managed to gather himself, a powered-down Erik Josten and Donny Gill, the Blizzard. He convinces Songbird to join, but she is uneasy with the arrangement. Carol Danvers, Warbird, acts as parole officer. But Abe is forced to hide from her -- and his team -- the source of his funding: Baron Wolfgang von Strucker!

The New Thunderbolts go into action to stop attacks from the Atlantean terrorist organization Fathom 5 (Bloodtide, Dragonrider, Llyron, Manowar, Sea Leopard) and the Wrecking Crew (Bulldozer, Piledriver, Wrecker). With the help of Mr. Fantastic, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Spider-Man, they drive off an attack by participants in the Great Game (Polestar, Tremelo) and heroically keep the U.N. building from collapsing. In the course of these events they are joined by Joystick, the Radioactive Man and Speed Demon.

During an early battle Captain Marvel arrives on the scene and is coldcocked by Atlas, whose powers have suddenly returned. Atlas throws Genis out to sea, but he generates a cocoon from which he later emerges -- with a new look and a new codename: Photon.

Unknown to the team, they are being targeting by The Purple Man and his mind-controlled warrior, the new Swordsman, who finds himself in a bloody three-way battle with von Strucker and Wolverine. It all comes together when von Strucker leads a Hydra invasion fleet to annihilate Manhattan. Abe, reduced to wearing an old suit of Beetle armor, leads the New Thunderbolts to a surprising, and crowd-pleasing, success.

Brief appearances from Captain America, Code Blue, the New Warriors (Firestar, Justice, Nova, Namorita) and Power Pack. Fathom 5 is revealed as a combat arm of At'La'Tique, whose leaders include Nagala and Tamara Rahn.

Continuity: Speed Demon is revealed to have been planted as an agent of von Strucker's. Chen Lu is working as a representative of the Chinese government. Text reveals that Joystick previously led a safe, boring life "and she still ended up getting killed," so she decided that "every day needed to be a challenge." The Wolverine appearance crosses over with the "Enemy of the State" storyline, but sufficient information is provided here to make that yarn irrelevant to T-Bolts continuity.

I don't know any reason why Speedball would not be working with his teammates here, but only the flying heroes show up in the Warriors' one-panel appearance.

We will later discover that Zemo is working behind the scenes here, using the moonstones to force the Purple Man to train Andreas Strucker as the Swordsman, to extend the reach of Killgrave's power and to try to help rescue Photon (with disastrous results). Following the Swordsman's attack on von Strucker, Zemo allows Killgrave to be arrested. Von Strucker's escape is short-lived, too: Zemo causes his escape pod to crash, and Strucker ends up in preservation tank in a Hydra facility in Russia. See "Living Lies", (2005/11/01), "Bad Blood" (2006/01/03) and "The War at Home" (2006/04/01).

Comments: Fabian Nicieza brings the 'Bolts back in a big way, with a no-holds-barred adventure full of great scenes and explosive action, supported by a plot that, on close examination, doesn't make much sense. Old-school art from Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine is vividly colored by Chris Satomayor. It takes a little too long for the team-interactions to click -- and the Wolverine/Swordsman battle is an unwelcome distraction -- but by the last two chapters it's clear that we're on to something new and exciting.

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This page was revised on March 8, 2009

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